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Top 6 Reasons Why Apps Fail

The Top 6 Reasons Why Apps Fail & How To Avoid Them


Typically, a person will decide to download an app in only a few seconds. At the same time, the massive volume of apps available intensifies the competition for user attention. By the end of 2018, a combined total of 4.1 million apps were available between the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store. So, what does it take to develop a successful mobile app in today’s market?

Benchmarking Mobile App Success

Mobile app development follows a build-measure-learn process. Setting success criteria and measuring performance provides a long-term direction for your development strategy. The definition of success will differ depending on the type of app you’re developing and your overall business objectives. It’s important to understand what you’re trying to accomplish with your product before beginning any development work.


There are quite a few success metrics that need to be monitored to gauge the performance of your mobile app.  These metrics fall into five distinct categories:

General Marketing or App Launch Metrics

  • Website, microsite, or landing page traffic
  • Website, microsite, landing page, or content backlinks
  • Website, microsite, or landing page domain authority
  • Brand and product mentions
  • Social media audience growth
  • Social media engagement and vitality
  • Email subscriber growth
  • Email actions and engagement (opens, click-throughs, unsubscribes)

User Acquisition Metrics

  • Increase Daily Active Users (DAUs)
  • Increase Monthly Active Users (MAUs)
  • Increase Daily Sessions per DAU
  • Increase retention rate
  • Reduce churn rate

User Action Metrics

  • Increase conversions
  • Increase sessions
  • Reduce session intervals
  • Feature use/in-app engagement

Business Metrics

  • Increase in revenue
  • Increase conversions
  • Upsell products
  • Reduce cost per acquisition
  • Increase lifetime value
  • Reduce abandonment rates
  • Product reviews


Not only is it important to monitor your own product’s performance, but  the performance of competitor products as well. Identifying the right success criteria for your mobile app will help identify areas for improvement so you can adjust your strategy to effectively meet business and product goals. This article will help you to plan ahead by outlining the top six reasons why mobile apps fail.

Six Common Reasons Mobile Apps Fail

While competition in the app market is high, failure isn’t always a result of getting lost in the noise. In most cases, there are other contributing factors.

Poorly Researched Market & Audience

It’s easy to think that users will love your app, but can you validate  that assumption? Long before development begins it’s essential to have a deep understanding of your  product’s target audience. Not only is audience research necessary for developing an app that addresses a specific user need,  it also aids in the creation of the messaging that will attract users. A successful app launch strategy is firmly rooted in user research.


There can be multiple groups of users for an app, so during the early planning and discovery stage of a project, you have to identify the product’s central demographics and create user personas. A user persona is a semi-fictional representation of the product’s ideal user. The more detailed user personas are, the better. Demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals are just a few aspects to include in a user persona.


If you decide to build an app without doing the research, defining the audience, and strategizing use cases and features that will appeal to that audience, you run the risk of building  a product you assume people will want, but in reality don’t.


Introducing a new product to the market should be an iterative process to validate assumptions about user behavior and the product itself. Often, a prototype isn’t enough to validate the product and achieve internal buy-in. An iterative process is highly beneficial to continuously meet the needs of your users and maintain engagement. But how do you know exactly what to build for your users? How will you solve their pain points and exceed their expectations far beyond what your competition offers? Consider a minimum viable product, which includes the feature or features required to solve a core problem for a set of users and be released to the market.

Lack Of Originality

The truth is, app stores are oversaturated with similar  apps. Today’s most successful apps have a strong value proposition.


Competitive research will help reveal your competition’s strengths and weaknesses in order to define your own competitive advantage. Building a product that offers the same features as your competition won’t help you win over users. A unique value proposition (UVP) is the first step you need to consider to optimize user loyalty and overall business success.


One of the best ways to increase your chances of success is to draft a vision statement for your product. A vision statement creates a definite sense of direction towards the end goal of the application. As well, your vision statement defines the solution to the problem your intended users are facing.


For an in-depth look at how to create a product vision statement, check out our recent article – How to Choose the Best Features for Your Mobile App.

Not Choosing a Platform Wisely

Android and iOS (as well as other platforms) have very intuitive interface guidelines. They operate in different ways and appeal to different user groups.


When apps don’t perform well across the scope of devices, networks, and operating systems, it becomes a major problem. Users get frustrated when an app works on their iPhone, but not on their iPad, for example. When deciding what platform is best for your mobile app, a key question to ask is: what is the goal and purpose of your application? Choosing the right platform for your mobile app depends on the app content you intend to create and overall business goals. It comes down to analyzing your target market, and  core user demographics to choose the option that best suits your business.


When developing for multiple platforms, it’s important to build with platform differences in mind. Apps that fail to do this stand to cause frustration amongst users. With the average user taking  less than a minute to decide whether or not an app is worth using, a little frustration can be detrimental.

Poor User Experience

There are a lot of components involved in building an app that offers a great user experience.  At a base level, your app needs to be intuitive. If a user struggles to perform basic functions on your app and can’t figure out core functionalities easily, the result is very poor usability. Some other examples of poor user experience include:

  • App performance issues (slow or lagging)
  • Long load times
  • Long registration processes
  • Features that are difficult to access


One thing to pay particular attention to is platform-specific UI/UX best practices. As mentioned above, ignoring these is a costly mistake as each platform has elements that their users are accustomed to. For example, minimum sizing for tappable controls or specific swipe gestures will differ from platform to platform, with users expecting results from the actions to be familiar and consistent with other platform applications.

Improper Testing


While it’s rare that an app will be launched without minor bugs, making sure you invest in QA before shipping can ensure there are no major issues. If an app isn’t tested properly, it’s bound to be rife with bugs that impact user experience and is prone to crash. A single crash is more than enough to stop users from ever using it again. In fact, some of the most common negative reviews on app stores are related to apps crashing. And the more negative reviews you have, the more likely your app is to fail.


According to a study by Blancco Technology Group (BTG), Fifty-eight percent of iOS-based devices suffer from performance failures like apps crashing or components shutting down. App testing must be done thoroughly, with a documented process in place, in order to ensure that your application is as market-ready as possible. It’s unlikely you’ll get a second chance if you fail to entice users the first time around.

A Poorly Executed Mobile App Launch

An app launch strategy has a significant impact on acquiring and retaining users; it is a marketing effort that requires extensive research and ongoing work to see results. To improve your chances of success, there should be an established marketing plan to ensure that every step is made and executed properly in a timely manner.


If you want your app to have a high download and user retention rate, it needs to make a good first impression within the first few days prior to launch. This is a critical time to focus on highlighting the value of the app in order to optimize the onboarding process. If you don’t impress your new users quickly, you’ll likely lose their interest altogether.


A mobile app launch isn’t a one-time event. There will always be room for improvement which makes the mobile app launch a cyclical process that requires reassessment as market demands change. Recently launched mobile apps should be updated and relaunched regularly to keep users engaged through new updates and features.

The Verdict on Why Mobile Apps Fail

The performance of an app depends on many factors that can range from competition to marketing budgets to sheer luck. But beyond these factors, poor research and poor execution are common reasons why apps fail when launched. Focusing efforts on market and audience research, following platform-specific best practices, and thorough quality assurance testing can be the difference between failure and success.


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Annie Dossey

Digital Marketing Manager